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Winter Camping in the Chippewa National Forest

Guest blogger: John Schroeder shares his experience of winter camping in the Chippewa National Forest. 
People might call you crazy and think you’ve gotten frostbite to the brain, but if you’re looking for a way to be bold and embrace winter in Minnesota’s nature… try winter camping! With the silent solitude of winter in the woods, the beauty of snow on conifers, and the refreshing breath of clean crisp air, there is no bolder way to enjoy the cold months.
The weather may be cold, but that doesn’t mean being uncomfortable. Even camping in double-digits below zero, it’s possible to keep cozy with warm layers, a good sleeping system, hot beverages, and the embrace of a radiating campfire.
How to stay warm in such extremes? One can spend a lot of money on cold weather camping gear, but that isn’t necessary to give winter camping a try—especially if you’re not yet sure if it’s for you. There are outfitters that rent proper equipment, or it’s possible to augment 3-season camping gear and make it work. It’s important is to have a warm sleeping pad to insulate from the ground, and either a cold-rated sleeping bag or two sleeping bags doubled up. Keeping dry is critical—bring extra, extra wool socks and double them or change them as necessary. Do not breathe into the sleeping bag where moisture can gather and create uncomfortable dampness. Also, fuel the furnace within—pack and eat foods that are high in fat and calories.
There are a number of dispersed camp sites where campers can enjoy the silence and solitude of winter, while still enjoying some basic amenities like a fire ring and a pit toilet. Check in with the Chippewa National Forest for a map of our beautiful, dispersed camp sites. Check out more information: Chippewa National Forest Dispersed Campsites.
When I go winter camping I enjoy ice fishing, cross country skiing and snowshoeing. There are lots of trails in the Chippewa National Forest to cross country ski on. For Snowshoeing you can pretty much go where you want in the woods. Stay off of the cross country ski trail. Check out more information: Cross Country Skiing in the Chippewa National Forest . For ice fishing, make sure that you bring an ice auger. Some lakes can have over 3 feet of ice in the winter. Make sure you test the ice as you go because no ice is safe ice. Check out more information: Lakes in the Chippewa National Forest.
Winter camping… sure it’s a little bit cold… but you won’t be bothered by a single mosquito!

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